“It is the perfect canvas”

January 21st, 2013 by

I was just sitting down to pound out a post for this time slot when I received a tweet:

@GoIntoTheStory you might like this “@LettersOfNote: A letter of advice from Michael Winner to his younger self. — @njjohn33

Today it was announced that Michael Winner, the British writer-director most noted for the Death Wish series of movies, died at the age of 77. Here is the letter referenced above Winner wrote to himself via Letters of Note:

Hard work, perseverance, motivation, create opportunities, these are messages about which a writer can never hear enough. But it’s this line which caught my eye:

“It’s the perfect canvas. One you can leave blank through sloth, inactivity, or laziness, or one you can fill with activity and pleasure if you try hard enough.”

A script or book really is a perfect canvas, the blank page representing a boundless chance to create magic. Or alternatively as Winner suggests, remain empty.

That is our choice. Every day as we sit to write. Fill up that canvas. Leave it blank.

How to get to the “activity and pleasure” part? If there’s one piece of advice I hear from writers over and over again, it’s simply this: Write every day.

You will have good days. You will have bad days. But once it becomes a habit, you will naturally find yourself drawn toward the activity of writing.

And there will be times, as hard as it is, where you will find pleasure in the craft.

The next time you start a writing session, bring this perspective to it: That story you are writing? That computer monitor screen, notebook or pad of paper? It is a perfect canvas.

If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?

Go here for Michael Winner’s IMDB page.

Thanks to @njjohn33 for sending along that tweet!

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